UWT digs deeper with 2018 Golden Shovel Award

March 8, UW Tacoma’s economic impact was recognized at the Greater Tacoma Convention Center when the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County presented the Golden Shovel Award to campus administrators. Chancellor Mark Pagano and Jill Purdy, associate vice chancellor for Undergraduate Affairs and interim executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, accepted the metallic shovel during the board’s annual meeting on behalf of the campus.

The Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County, established in 1978, works to bring more jobs and wealth into the region with its mission of recruiting and retaining business. The board’s website states, “The more high-wage jobs and wealth-creating companies in Tacoma-Pierce County, the better the quality of life and the greater the job and career opportunities for our citizens.”

The board holds annual meetings to recognize and discuss economic development — with the 2018 meeting drawing over 550 local leaders. The annual Golden Shovel Award was created in 2012 to show recognition to a local organization, business or individual who significantly contributes to the economy of Tacoma and Pierce County.

The meeting this year praised UWT’s impact since its opening on the community as a whole — particularly its part in the transformation of the downtown area.

“It’s an honor for us to be recognized in this way,” Chancellor Pagano said. “The award provides visibility, appreciation and acknowledgement of this university across the Puget Sound region.”

Pagano believes UWT has created economic uplift — such as by providing well-educated students to the community — while also revitalizing Tacoma’s downtown. He noted a recent statistic that says 93 percent of UWT students come from Washington and over 80 percent of them stay in the Puget Sound region after graduation.

Bruce Kendall, president and CEO of the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County, has had a strong relationship with UWT — especially in recent efforts to bring a law school to Tacoma. He sees the award as important recognition for the entire UWT campus community.

“Students, faculty and staff are the lifeblood of a university,” Kendall said. “We hope that the recognition lets them know they are embraced and supported by thousands of people across the South Sound and will continue to be a valued part of our social, civic, and economic future.”

UWT was also recognized in 2017 by Washington Monthly with the top ranking of “Best Bang for Your Buck” in the West.

Robert Kelchen of Washington Monthly wrote in the 2017 ranking announcement, “[UWT] is best in the West for serving large proportions of lower-income and first-generation students at a low price, and setting them up to earn, 10 years after enrolling, $53,700 a year — nearly $12,000 more than former students from other colleges who have similar backgrounds earn.”